Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is a serious criminal offense in Illinois, and the state commonly implements checkpoints to catch DUI drivers. Although the legality of such checkpoints may not be certain in some states, they are legal in Illinois.
These checkpoints are typically established when and where law enforcement officials believe they will encounter more DUI drivers. For example, you might encounter a DUI checkpoint during the holiday season in areas with a higher concentration of alcohol-serving establishments or liquor stores.
If you were recently arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Illinois, this blog post will help you understand the law behind DUI checkpoints and your legal rights.
Conducting a DUI Checkpoint in Illinois
Although DUI checkpoints are legal in Illinois, law enforcement must conduct them in a very specific manner. When any law about how a DUI checkpoint should be conducted is violated, it can present those who were arrested at that checkpoint a better opportunity to beat their charges.
Here are some of the guidelines law enforcement officials must follow:
- Law enforcement must publicize the date, time, and location of the checkpoint in advance.
- Checkpoints must be clearly identified, well-lit, and officers must be in uniform.
- Law enforcement must have an unbiased plan for choosing which vehicles to pull over.
- Police officers can’t arrest a driver for DUI or search their vehicle without probable cause
If you were arrested at a DUI checkpoint and charged with a DUI-related crime, consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help. Your lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your arrest, which include how law enforcement conducted the DUI checkpoint. Any irregularities or policies that violate the law may be used to help you defend against your charges.
What Should I Do at a DUI Checkpoint?
A random selection vehicles passing through a DUI checkpoint will be stopped, and drivers will be checked for signs of impairment. If the officer suspects that a driver may be under the influence, they will conduct further tests and potentially make an arrest.
Here are some guidelines on what you should do when approaching a DUI checkpoint:
- Remain calm and cooperate with the officers.
- Have your driver's license, registration, and insurance ready to present.
- Keep your hands visible on the steering wheel at all times.
- Do not engage in any argument or aggressive behavior with the officers.
- If you are arrested, remain silent and do not resist. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
If you are asked to participate in a field sobriety test or a preliminary breathalyzer test, it’s important to understand that these examinations aren’t mandatory. You only have to submit to a breathalyzer test after you are arrested for DUI—not while you are being detained during an investigation.
Should you choose to participate in an optional DUI screening, there is a risk of being unfairly arrested and charged with DUI based on the police officer’s level of suspicion. This is why it’s generally advisable to avoid taking a preliminary breath test or doing any field sobriety test offered by law enforcement.
What Should I Do If I’m Arrested for DUI?
If you are ultimately arrested for DUI at a checkpoint, it’s important to remember that you have two essential rights: the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. You can invoke your right to remain silent by declining to answer any questions that can be used to incriminate you for DUI, such as “How many drinks have you had tonight?” or “Are you feeling a little buzzed?”
You can demand to have an attorney present after your arrest. It’s your right to have a legal professional at your side to help you protect your rights. Without such help, you can face the consequences for a crime you never even committed. If you need legal representation, the Law Office of Steven Fine is here for you.
Contact us online to learn more about how we can help you defend against DUI charges.